Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The creative journey....part I

Lotus flower, Thailand
(processed with a layer of Kim Klassen's "Sweet Treat" and "Warm Grunge")
I always tell my children that it is not what happens to you in life that matters, but rather how you react to what happens to you that is important.  "Stuff" happens to people all the time and there is nothing magical about you that keeps the "bad" from happening sometimes.  The question is, will you allow it to cloud your life and your attitudes, or will you use the situation to change something in yourself.
My creative journey is so wrapped up in the circumstances of my life that it is hard to unravel the separate threads. I had a wonderful childhood and young adulthood.... I was happy, and things came easily to me:  academics, friendships, career, marriage and three wonderful children.  I expected that life would just continue along this positive trajectory.  And really, in a way, it has.... just not the way I thought it would.  For the most part, my life is picture perfect except for one rather significant thing: my oldest child, now a 22 year-old young man, has to deal with issues that significantly impact his ability to live an independent life.  The curve ball our family has been dealt in this life is not something that we recognized immediately or that came on suddenly -- rather, its severity has been revealed so gradually that, painful as it is, it has never come as a shock, but has settled down on us like a dull ache.  
One of my favorite journal pages...
The details of his story are my son's to share or not, but let's just say that the consequences of his illness have been the impetus for my own creative journey.  I have been "artsy" all my life, but the thought never even crossed my mind that I could be an artist.... after all, I didn't go to art school!  I knew that to ignore my son's illness -- or to wallow in despair about it -- were both useless exercises.  I had to turn to something to keep me busy and focused. I discovered quiltmaking when I was 40, and immediately fell in love with the way I could play with color without getting messy.  Not only that, but I could sew while still paying attention to my kids. 
This is the first quilt I made (for my son), back in 2000.  It was hand-pieced... I remember every stitch!
I soon realized that the quiet time spent making quilts was my spiritual solace, a time when I could reflect on my life and its lessons and to find beauty in fragments.  My needle and thread became the crucible in which despair became beauty, tempered by patience.  Quilting was a perfect expression of my need for endurance.  You can't achieve a finished quilt without putting in a lot of time!  As I moved on in the last few years to include mixed media art and photography, the sense of time as a vital element in my work became more and more evident.  I love using textures in photographs precisely because they introduce a fourth dimension -- time -- to an image, suggesting that it has withstood the ravages of time to exist today.  I am in this game with my son for the long haul, and that sense of time as a distiller of something exquisite is very important to me.
I am looking forward to 2012, and participating in the creative communities online.  By nurturing our creativity every day, we will envision a world that is better than the one we live in today -- and everyone knows that once we visualize something, it is on its way.

17 comments:

hannah said...

Only one word for this:
A TRULY NOURISHING POST.
Thank you.

Ruth said...

A wonderful and inspiring post, and I love the textured image, I hope you had some quality creative time today, I try to every day, even just half an hour :)

Kaylene said...

Thank you for sharing I think I can relate to some of what you are telling us, mine is the rejection of me by my son. Cheers

Jacqui said...

A truly moving story, happy and sad at the same time.
I love the way you use and embrace colour and the positivity you bring to your family.

Sue from New Bern said...

What wisdom you share through your powerful story.

Carol said...

I join you with a vision of a better world.

leaca said...

great story. love your journal entry and I can see how that would be a favorite.

Annie Pratt said...

Powerful. I identify with your story.

Henrietta Hassinen said...

I love the lotus flower, I have never seen them live.

Kia said...

What a sweet and inspiring post, Kathleen! Thank you! :)

The lotus flowe is so pretty, and your edit is lovely, as always.

A big hug xo

Barb said...

So powerful and beautifully written. Art is therapy. Very nice texture work!

Michelle Renee said...

I love your view about not what happens, but how you react to it. I couldn't agree more.

Becs said...

Your image is gorgeous and your wrote your story beautifully. I really look forward to sharing this Beyond Layers adventure with you.:)

Evelyn said...

I love your textured lotus flower! I wish you and your son all the best as he battles with his illness.

georgia b. said...

this is so beautifully written... for so many reasons. i actually had to go tend to my son between commenting on your most recent post and coming back to read this one. i left your blog window open so that i could come back and read this, as i knew it would be a good post based on your title. i look forward to part 2!

your words have me thinking a lot about what i want to teach my son as he grows up. it's such a great lesson to teach them... as you said, they will not be immune to the difficult things in life, even if they have a good life. i'm rambling, but i do want to say, you write beautifully and poignantly. i appreciate what you seem easily able to express. i have been thinking a lot lately about how artistic people are not merely artistic, but that it is so intertwined with the rest of our lives whether we realize it or not. photography has risen in me out of a lot of pain or disappointment... even joy. i used to think it was merely a creative outlet. but it so much more. your post reminds me about what i recently wrote about embracing tension in our art and lives.

anyway, glad i came back to finish up my visit on your blog so that i could read this. that lotus image is absolutely gorgeous, too!

Evelyn S. said...

Oh, your quilt is fabulous! My maternal grandmother was a wonderful quilter...hand-quilting every one of them. My mother took up quilting in her adulthood, but she never had the skill of her own mother, and now at 91, my mother has her work machine-quilted. She keeps making them--various sizes and colors, none complicated--and her 5 children get at least one a year. ;-) Your photographs are also beautiful. You are truly an artist. (That lotus....WOW!)

Angie said...

What a beautiful post. Thank you for sharing, Kathleen. Gorgeous photographs and texture work as well.